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Virginia Golfers primed for the Playoffs

A big week has arrived for current and former UVA golfers.

The Masters - Round One Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

While the eyes of the world are on Rio, Virginia’s golfers past and present are preparing for the culmination of their golfing summers. Steve Marino has his sights on the PGA Tour’s FEDEX Cup playoffs, while James Driscoll, Denny McCarthy, and Ben Kohles fight for a promotion to the big tour. Not to be outdone, current Cavaliers Derek Bard and Jimmy Stanger will compete in this year’s US Amateur, which gets underway this week.

It’s crunch time for Marino if he wants to keep his PGA Tour Card. With a T8 finish in last week’s John Deere Classic, Marino rose from 138 to 129 on the FEDEX Cup list. He needs to sneak into the top 125 to make the playoffs and keep his card. Only one regular-season tournament remains: the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, NC. Marino sits 14 points shy of the 125th spot, and he’ll need at least a T56 finish to get there. He could likely guarantee his status if he can finish T25 or better. Anything between T25 and T56 would require some faltering from the players ranked above him.

Marino’s history at the Wyndham is mixed, but a a T10 in 2009 should provide him some confidence that he can get the job done. If Marino fails to crack the top 125, he’ll get a second chance to earn his card via the Tour playoffs the first week in September.

Moving to the Tour, three UVA alums look to earn their PGA Tour cards in the next few weeks: James Driscoll, Denny McCarthy, and Ben Kohles. They’ll need to finish in the top 25 of the money list to do so. Driscoll, off his win in Nashville earlier this year, has the best chance. He is currently 32nd in the tour money list, about $13,000 out of the top 25. With two more events before the playoffs begin, Driscoll will likely need to finish at worst top 20 in both events, while getting some help from some of his competitors. Should he not make the top 25, he’ll have another shot to earn his card in the four-week playoffs.

McCarthy currently sits 44th on the tour’s money list. While a top 25 finish isn’t out of the question (a top 3 finish in either tournament would put him pretty close), McCarthy will likely have to compete in the playoffs. There, the top 75 in the tour money list and the players ranked 126-200 from the PGA Tour’s FEDEX Cup ranks will compete in a four week series of tournaments with the top 25 money earners (not including the top 25 from the regular season ranks) will earn their PGA Tour Card as well.

Kohles has more of an uphill battle. He currently stands 128th in the Tour standings, and needs two strong finishes in the next two weeks just to make the top 75. Should he miss out on the playoffs, he’ll look to qualifying school, a four round tournament in December, to maintain his current status on the secondary tour.

Finally, two current Wahoos are set to take on the best in the amateur ranks. Derek Bard and Jimmy Stanger will head to Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan for the US Amateur this week. It’s a return trip for Bard, who came in second in last year’s amateur and parlayed that into an invitation to the Masters and an appearance in the US Open. This will be the first US Amateur appearance for Stanger, who joins Bard as a rising fourth year on the Virginia squad. The two will join 310 others in the field for two rounds of stroke play on Monday and Tuesday with the top 64 advancing to the match play bracket portion of the competition.

Stay tuned to Streaking the Lawn over the next couple weeks as we update you on results of these Wahoo golfers.